My mother is making my life miserable. Is there some way to deal with this? - AgingCare.com

My mother is making my life miserable. Is there some way to deal with this?

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My husband & I retired last year and moved down the street from my parents. Our home for the past 23 years sold quickly & our plans to build went out the window. With a closing date on our old house looming overhead, the prospect of moving twice was very unappealing. We ended up buying a house just seven houses down. We moved here for a variety of reasons - the lakes, the taxes are much cheaper, housing is a little cheaper and I would be close to my aging parents (early 80's). They are active & self sufficient but things can change quickly so we thought it best not to be two hours away. Since we moved, my mother especially has acted like I am supposed to spend all my time with her. It has taken me a while to get to this point but I have managed to reduce dinners to a couple of times a week. In the beginning I felt like I was supposed to invite them over whenever I cooked a meal or invite them to go with us whenever we ate out. Quite honestly, I don't like to spend that kind of time with anybody. My mother is rather picky as is my husband when it comes to food. Trying to find a restaurant that pleases them both was frustrating, to say the least. Sometimes I would rather not eat that have to deal with that. I'm used to my husband's picky ways but I don't want to have to deal with another one. We go to the casinos that are about an hour and a half away about once a month. We usually go together but have to do things on their time schedule. They have a dog that gets insulin twice a day. So we cannot go before 10 and we have to get back by 10 as well. At first it wasn't a big deal but it has become one. They don't like to partake of the free casino food, so we have to stop along the way & eat. We used to like to go & spend the night. If we try to do something they really can't do, my mother gets mad & pouts for an extended period of time. As a matter of fact, she was mad at another family member this past weekend and when she gets like that, she's mad at the world. I just stay away from her. Since she was in the state of mind, my husband suggested later that afternoon we sneak off to the casino since she probably wouldn't be calling. How funny, I said, we are both in our 60's, but we are sneaking around like a couple of teenagers up to no good. About 10 that night my dad called my husband. He didn't answer because he didn't want to let on like we were at the casino because it would make my mother even madder that we would dare to go without her. She once refused to speak to me for a few weeks upon learning I went to the casino with my friends without her. That was years ago. Anyway, my mother began calling me & leaving voicemails. I finally called her back because I was worried that something might be wrong but that wasn't it at all. It was something my dad wanted to say to my husband about an upcoming poker tourney & it could have waited. My mother was upset that I didn't ask her to go but I said it was spur of the moment and we didn't even get there until nearly 6 pm. She tried to act like it wasn't a big deal but she called me a dumb ass at least twice in the conversation & reminded me she could have gone & my dad could have stayed home with the dog. My problems are many with my mother & I know I should do what my brothers do & essentially ignore her & live my life. Through the years she has placed such a huge burden on me. Every holiday was spent hosting some family event because if the calendar said holiday, they would come into town. I'm not just talking Thanksgiving & Christmas. Birthdays, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day ... My brothers & their families would give them a few hours of their time but I didn't have that luxury. My holidays were tied up practically from the time I got home from work until it was time to go back to work after the holiday. I am very resentful & conflicted. I love my parents to pieces but I resent them, too. My husband & I have always been very self sufficient. I've never asked them for money or help of any kind. Yet they both want to weigh in even on our financial decisions. Help!

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drewxjacobs - My goodness our Mothers sound identical! The "Queen B" personality, wanting nonstop attention and expecting us to cater to her 24/7. We too have to "sneak away" to go to a casino or take a trip without her. My mother is 86, has trouble walking and short of breath. She gets so mad when she hears we are going out of town on a holiday weekend and not taking her. If we do not tell her and she finds out [she calls around asking where different family members are] she will call and leave a nasty voice mail. She even started booking her doctor appointments on the Friday before Memorial day and July 4th weekend expecting us to cancel our trip. We jump through hoops for her and there is no respect. She demands our attention and gets jealous if we are in the room and turn our focus to someone other than her. She has always been domineering and nosy so trying to have a life without her interference is nearly impossible. I live 30 miles away and refuse to move any closer.

My prayers are with you and your husband. By all means go have fun and enjoy your retirement.
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rovana, you are so right about explanations & excuses. Every question doesn't deserve an answer & I absolutely shouldn't have to explain or make an excuse for why I did something. I have been enjoying the coolness that she is extending to me. She hasn't been calling me for every little thing, which I find very pleasant indeed. I think the less I talk to her right now, the better. I'm so very tired of her mood swings, always being mad at somebody in the family & general pouting ways when something isn't suiting her. I love them both dearly but my dad, bless his heart, is the long suffering husband. He tries to make her happy and just falls in line. I'm going to practice the stone deaf wall thing - lol
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NYDaughterInLaw, I don't plan to live a secret life. I felt so stupid the other night when I was actually worried about what my mother was going to say to me for spending an evening at the casino without her. She even gave me an opportunity to lie about it when she asked if I was at the movie. I just finally reached my end with her & decided to let the chips fall where they may by staying true to myself & not trying to cover it up. She's just going to have to get over herself.
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CarlaCB, I'm so glad you found a workable solution & a housemate for your mother. You have been freed up to live your life & still spend time with her. I don't think we will revisit building a house & moving again really wouldn't be an option. We renovated the house we purchased several months ago & we're happy with it. I'm going to just have to let my mother know in the kindest way possible that sometimes my husband & I like to do things by ourselves & she doesn't have a right to be mad about it. It's both silly & incredibly selfish. I have some plans to go back to work for the holiday season, as well as trying to find someone in this town to teach me to paint. If I get to spend my summers in Colorado, I'll have some beautiful landscapes as inspiration.
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Have you tried stopping yourself when you are asked to explain, or make excuses? I've found it works just to refuse to do so. Say nothing, change the subject, just be a stone deaf wall. Go out where you and your husband want to go, don't feel any need to take your parents along. Their social life is their business, not up to you. Never explain or defend - you have no need to! You love your parents, but have you considered that you are doing them a favor by being an independent adult? You are helping them be better parents, better people.
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You need to establish healthy boundaries and quickly. You do not need to explain yourself to your parents. This all takes practice.

Live your life. If feelings are hurt that is not your problem. That your parents have few visitors is not your problem. And you are not responsible for filling their social calendar.

If you and your husband want to take a break from your parents, the upcoming holidays are the perfect time to start a new tradition. I'll share with you a true story. A dear friend of mine who was fed up with all the cooking and cleaning that preceded hosting Thanksgiving decided to rent a small cabin in Vermont to spend Thanksgiving alone with her husband. She made reservations at a historic and award-winning inn for dinner. She informed her family that she was not hosting turkey day. Yes, people were "shocked" and feelings were "hurt" but people got over themselves and life went on. She goes back every year.

All that to say go and live your life and do so out in the open.
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drewxjacobs - I have been taking college courses to try to gear up for a post-retirement career, so my choice was to move closer to the university I was attending. For a while I would drive back and spend the weekend with her to take care of her shopping and stuff. I tried to reduce it to every other weekend but she got weepy about how she needed more help and someone always available to her. My mother's main issue is mobility and balance, so she can do very little for herself. She also stopped driving a year or two ago.

I didn't want to move back, so I talked her into a trial period with a local friend who needed a place to stay. My mother was at first very resistant but eventually came to realize her new housemate was a godsend. Now I no longer have a room to stay in there, so I drive over once a week or so to take her to dr. appointments and errands. I'm sorry that most of what I did would probably not work for you, being that you're married and your mother's needs are mainly emotional at this point. That shouldn't stop you from finding a better balance for yourself and your husband. It sounds like you wanted to build somewhere else before you moved down the street from your parents. Any chance you would revisit this idea, and thereby gain a little distance and a new all-consuming occupation that could be a ready excuse when your mother wants you at her side?
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@CarlaCB - You could be right about the moving & even though we don't want to (we just moved here 8 months ago), the subject has been discussed somewhat in jest. What did your mother say when you moved? Did she ever think it was because of her? I'm glad you were able to solve your problem. It has occurred to me that if she survives my dad she will expect to live with me no matter where I live!
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My mother was always a very controlling domineering individual & she wants things the way she wants them. She is having a hard time adapting I think, to no longer being the center of attention. As her grandchildren have grown up & making families of their own - having to divide their time between their own parents & in laws, it is not always possible to remain Queen Bee & she is finding this out. When I lived in the area it was easy for them to stay at my house & the rest of the family would come by & spend time with them because it was easy. Now that I have moved, they have not been back. They could stay with my brother & his wife but my mother says she doesn't feel comfortable & won't go. When everybody is busy doing other things on holiday weekends, she gets miffed. I told my husband she acts like a teenage girl alone on Saturday nite. My husband has also said if anything happens to my dad, my mother is going to be a handful. Yea, that is a correct assumption!
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drewxjacobs, I hate to say this, but I think you may have to move. I was in a similar situation with a similar (but not nearly as clingy) sort of mother and that's what I ultimately had to do. My mother was not so much lonely for companionship, but focusing on every little thing she wanted (or wanted done around her house), and calling to have me come and address it that very minute. One time I left my phone turned off after returning from a medical appointment, and she said "What's the point of having you here if I can't get in touch with you?" Like she thought that my purpose in moving near her was to be at her beck and call 24/7. I moved a half hour away, then an hour away. Now I don't get called for every little thing with the expectation that I'll be right over.

I think what GardenArtist said may be right, or at least I think it describes my mother. She wants to keep me close to make sure I'll be there for her when and if she needs my help. Short of moving, you need to figure out where you need to draw the line and then hold to it. You have a husband and a good reason (as well as a good excuse) to claim some time away from your mother including nights out and vacations. There will be plenty of time to be constant companions when she's older and really needs your help.
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